156

Charlie Hunter and Bobby Previte as Groundtruther: Altitude

Troy Collins By

Sign in to view read count
After three years and as many records, drummer Bobby Previte and guitarist Charlie Hunter bring their experimental trio project Groundtruther to a triumphant conclusion. Previte and Hunter have invited a rotating third member to play on each release; Latitude (Thirsty Ear, 2004) featured saxophonist Greg Osby, while Longitude (Thirsty Ear, 2005) starred DJ Logic. Keyboardist John Medeski joins the duo for Altitude, their third and final album.

Osby and Logic each put their own stamp on the trio, but neither seem as ideally suited to the project's varied scope as Medeski. The collective's most expansive session, Altitude ventures into double album territory; each disc focusing on a separate aesthetic, one acoustic, the other electric. Exploring a surfeit of dynamic moods, the two discs provide a fascinating study in contrasts.

Above Sea Level, the plugged-in set, churns with a volatile mix of rhythms, riffs and gritty electronic textures; roiling fusion, sci-fi be-bop and futuristic funk alternate with glitchy electronica, spacey psychedelia and mutant cyber-blues. Stretching out on these extended work-outs, the trio plays with freewheeling verve, invoking the halcyon days of early fusion, before it's de-evolution into parody. Medeski's arsenal of vintage analog keyboards is enthralling and otherworldly, the perfect fit with Previte's crude electronic drums and Hunter's incendiary, testosterone fueled electric guitar.

Completely acoustic, Below Sea Level is a haunting exercise in cinematic ambience. Brief improvisations conjure an alien sound world quite unlike anything these individuals have done before. Medeski's pointillist atonal piano and shadowy melodica summon a sinister vibe, while Previte's percolating percussion and Hunter's skittering acoustic guitar runs provide nervous energy.

A masterful writer and improviser, each succeeding release has found Previte pushing himself further, especially with electronics. Obtaining an organic sound from electronic drums is no easy feat, but Previte incorporates them into this project in subtly effective ways.

Groundtruther has provided an illuminating view into the stylistic development of Charlie Hunter. Once a straight-ahead guitarist with a clean-tone and a predilection for grooving funk, Hunter's excursions have grown more raw and rock oriented with each release. Groundtruther, more than his recent solo albums, has revealed him as an artist of vast range and creativity, taking aesthetic risks unimaginable during his 1990s tenure on Blue Note Records. From the strident pizzicato of the acoustic session to the scorching, Hendrixian maelstroms of the electric set, Hunter's multifarious abilities have never been more apparent.

Groundtruther departs on a high note with its most far-reaching and challenging statement. Despite some dry spots (inevitable with a collection this vast), the majority of Altitude is a fascinating assortment of compelling and often mesmerizing ideas.

Visit Charlie Hunter, Bobby Previte and John Medeski on the web.

Track Listing: CD1 (Above Sea Level): Taipei; Pyramid of Giza; Everest; Seoul Tower; Kingda Ka; Warsaw Radio Mast; 443m. CD2 (Below Sea Level): Haiku Death Valley; Haiku Salt Lake City; Haiku Dead Sea; Submarine Canyon; .Subduction Mode; Evaporates; Forearc; Cold Sweep; Downwelling; Decollement; Sea Floor Spreading Hypothesis; Turbidite; Bathymetric; Tectonic; Mariana Trench; Challenger Deep.

Personnel: Charlie Hunter: 7-string electric guitar, 7-string acoustic guitar; Bobby Previte: electronics, electronic drums, acoustic drums; John Medeski: Hammond organ, Wurlitzer, electric piano, Moog, clavinet, mellotron, melodica, acoustic piano.

Title: Altitude | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Thirsty Ear Recordings

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Ain't We Got Fun

Ain't We Got Fun

Charlie Hunter
Public Domain

Swamba Redux

Swamba Redux

Charlie Hunter
Copperopolis

Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Not Getting Behind Is The New Getting Ahead

Not Getting Behind Is...

Ia (independent Artists)
2012

buy
Public Domain

Public Domain

Self Produced
2010

buy
Gentlemen, I Neglected to Inform You You Will Not Be Getting Paid

Gentlemen, I...

Spire Artists
2010

buy
Baboon Strength

Baboon Strength

Spire Artists
2008

buy

Upcoming Shows

Related Articles

Read Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972 Album Reviews
Live in Newcastle, December 8, 1972
By John Kelman
April 19, 2019
Read HUJE 2018 Album Reviews
HUJE 2018
By Jack Bowers
April 19, 2019
Read Farallon Album Reviews
Farallon
By Jerome Wilson
April 19, 2019
Read Burning Meditation Album Reviews
Burning Meditation
By John Sharpe
April 18, 2019
Read Remembering Cecil Album Reviews
Remembering Cecil
By Dan McClenaghan
April 18, 2019
Read Apophenia Album Reviews
Apophenia
By Roger Farbey
April 18, 2019
Read Transcending the Sum Album Reviews
Transcending the Sum
By Chris May
April 17, 2019